Last night in New York, a memorial tribute was held for Marvin Miller, the former head of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) who passed away in November. During this tribute, several players called for Marvin Miller to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
For those who may not know who Miller is or why he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, here’s why. Beginning in 1966, Miller was named the leader of the MLBPA. He went on to serve as the union’s leader for almost 17 years. During this time, Miller was instrumental in raising player salaries and was crucial in finally getting the “reserve clause” removed from professional baseball.
What the “reserve clause” meant was that any player was the property of the team they played for – forever. The only way to leave a team was to be traded. The teams could trade a player whenever and wherever they wanted to and even at the end of a player’s contract, the player couldn’t leave – they were basically stuck with accepting whatever the team wanted to pay them.
The removal of the “reserve clause” resulted in free agency and basically changed the game in the 1970s. Players were no longer tied to having to play for one team for their entire careers. Salaries slowly started to climb (especially when owners like George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees began to take advantage of this new system).
Everything the players of today have is because of Marvin Miller. The game as you know it today is how it is mainly because of people like Marvin Miller. It is a complete travesty that Miller hasn’t been elected to the Hall of Fame yet. He has been close in the past, but has to yet to reach the magic number of votes needed.
What really is shocking, is that the man Miller routinely beat in negotations, former MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, is in the Hall of Fame while Miller isn’t. The only reason I can think of why Miller hasn’t been elected yet is because of the bias some of the voters have against Miller – I’m talking about the members of the media or baseball that don’t like Miller for what he did for the players (read as “friends of the owners and MLB Commissioner”). Every single player that played during the time of Miller’s reign as head of the MLBPA to the players today owe their livelihoods to Miller so I can’t see a player voting against him.
Miller is up for the Veterans’ Committee vote again this winter and I’m hoping that the Veterans’ Committee rights the wrong of Miller not being in the Hall of Fame just like a couple years ago when they finally elected Ron Santo to the Hall of Fame. The only shame will be that just like with Santo, the honor will come posthumously.
What do you think? Should Marvin Miller be in the Hall of Fame? Vote in the poll below and feel free to comment as well.